August is the month that ushers in so much loss for me. It is the month that school starts. The summer months are full of kids back from college and high school kids lifting and learning in my studio. In August, though, there is an abrupt ending with kids leaving for college. It is a time of grieving for me, not because I didn’t think they would leave, but because we grow together through deepening connections and I feel the loss of their presence, even though they almost always return for many years.
Looming even larger is the anniversary of my mothers death, August 26, 2019. Four years ago my mother turned 85 and 8 days later lay down for an afternoon nap and never woke up.
In the months after my mothers death, I would awaken each night with alarming precision at 2:14 A.M. In the glow of the moon, the experiences of the sweetness of my mother came to me. I had spent the better part of a lifetime huddled in the cold, dark cellar of my resentments of her. Many years ago, I had made peace with her and with myself. Especially when we are bereaved, we seek comfort. I find some comfort in the piece I wrote for her memorial one of those early early mornings.
When I recall these parts, these very real pieces, of my mother, I recall her loving presence.
She was everything. She was the fiercest, meanest, kindest, warmest, coolest, loveliest, cruelest, gentlest. She gave tirelessly of herself to nature, art, children, friends, and to family.
She was my mother, my source. She was my first heart break.
The role of mother is the role of everything: the life giver, the channel for the Great Mystery to move through, the Earth, the moist rich soil of nothing and therefore of ALL creation. It is no mystery that I am not a mother. I prefer my role of Auntie.
My best friend became a mother at 48. I was shocked. She had moved to DC. I was in grad school and preoccupied with my own existence (which turns out to have been a really poor excuse for letting friendship lag) and she sent me a card with a picture of her at about 8 months pregnant with twins!!!! I mean you have never seen anyone this pregnant. And then she gave birth to these babies and one day she was gracious enough to bring them to me and I fell in love instantly and the rest is history.
This whole life is about how we survive breaking our own hearts. How we survive our perceptions of other peoples trespasses, foibles, transgressions, etc……..
I spent my whole life CERTAIN that my mother had been the source of my deepest pain. I wanted her to fix it, make it go away, all the things we imagine are our mothers duties. And, for sure, I’d known exactly how she had devastated me and so I knew exactly how she should repair that wound….
It doesn’t work that way, I’ve discovered. I was pretty much wrong about it all.
Even had she accepted responsibility for all the pain of my life, which she did not, there is no way to take away another persons pain. We each must be willing to let it go, to recycle it all back to Spirit, to leave it to grow something new in the compost of life.
I spent years grasping for relief. What I was attached to turns out to have been the narrative I created to seemingly assuage my pain. I was not forgiving her, for sure, and I was not forgiving myself. What I discovered along the way is what Nelson Mandela said:
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
It is common to keep our own healing at bay by blaming something or someone outside of us for our pain. It helps us feel into the role of victim. “They” is an ephemeral. They did this to me. If I am a victim I am surely absolved of responsibility? But the truth is I am not ever absolved of the responsibility for my own life. Whatever happened, whatever I am experiencing in my life, with other people, situations, etc is ALL mine. Everything that comes up is coming up so that I can clear it.
When I went to my mother and asked her wtf and learned that she would not be offering me any relief, I understood it was mine alone, and, finally, willingly, undertook the journey toward myself.
I had found the rock bottom, so to speak. The hard place that I could, at last, push off from.
And it took me on a wild ride.
It started in movement. I was fortunate to have always been able to find my way into my heart through physical activity. Then I began meditation, another practice undertaken on a path to finding inner peace.
I’d sit in meditation and say “I am willing to forgive you for not being what I needed.”
And that softened into forgiveness and then that softened into forgiving myself.
Or, at least, a beginning. I began learning Breathwork techniques as a means to open further and followed my own inner guidance to learning about the root causes of pain, illness, and diseases.
Self forgiveness is really what I was after, all along. Self love is the journey we are all on, it turns out.
I was a little bitty baby girl and I survived so much. I survived the things that people aren’t supposed to have to survive, or so we tell ourselves. In reading books, many of which were given me by my mother, I learned that, in fact, everyone has to survive. It’s really just biology. We are all victims or survivors or whatever word we choose to define our relationship and our exchange with this one precious life. Birth is painful. If you watch any creature being born, the incredible brutality of it will change you forever.
We are all fighting like hell to get here.
Why is that?
Can you imagine yourself being born? What is it you fought so hard to get here to do? Is there a story about your birth? What is it that we are doing here?
I realized I wasn’t here on earth to blame my mother. But, the blaming showed up in me as physical dis-ease and pain. The blaming showed up as dysplasia, eczema, ulcers, irritable bowel, excess body fat, a herniated disc and a tumor in my breast…
Bleeding from my nipple was really the last straw. The way the body speaks to us is a metaphor that only we can untangle for ourselves. Whatever is coming up in or on my body is showing me my blind spots.
The great thing about me, though, is I have used every physical ailment as a point for change.
All the things I have held onto in an effort to hurt someone else have only hurt me. And all of those things taught me a lesson in letting go.
So how did forgiveness create the life I want?
It let me release the life I don’t want.
This healing journey started many moons ago. The most current path I have chosen includes Breathwork and working with the root causes of pain, illness, disease, in addition to my lifelong practices of weightlifting and meditation. There is nothing linear about a human’s evolution, either in the macro or in the micro. We are all on a unique path. As it is with physical development, spiritual development is individual. We all learn on our own time. The curriculum, while ours alone, is not optional, only the time we take it is ours to choose. The life we have is ours to unfold. No one can know it for us or explain it to us.
I learned to be wary of the people who have the answers. Most of them likely did not understand the question. And none of them can know me as I know myself.
You are the power. You are the answer. You are the light. You are born complete. You don’t have any missing pieces. Your life is your medicine and holds all of your answers and all the questions. This is all accessible to us. Breathwork and a deeper inquiry in root cause practices can bring us closer to ourselves by quieting the mind in a space of deep compassion.
“I’ve never felt more grounded and yet I also felt that I was floating! That is the first time my mind has ever been quiet.”
J.R. Oak Park Breathwork client.
You cannot smash open an acorn and find an oak tree, or rip open a rosebud to make the flower appear, even though you know the acorn will become a massive oak tree and the rose bud a rose.
Life is an unfolding, an ebb and flow, a becoming, a birth and a growing and a dying and a rebirth over and over and over again. The acorn takes the time it takes to grow into an oak. Your job is to simply allow it. How can you nurture its growth? Like the seasons floating in upon the breeze, none of us can make them appear faster or slower, none of us is making them come or go or linger longer. Each of us can put a fence around the oak sapling, water it, and tell it how big and strong it will become, providing homes for many creatures and shade for many more, and food, and fun, like a swing or place to sit high above the earth to read or get a different view.
Everything the oak needs is already baked in the acorn, just as everything that you need is already in you; you were born perfect. Your only job is to allow your own becoming.
I help people find their own way. My tools are Breathwork, Root Cause Practice, weightlifting, meditation, and nutrition. I weave these together depending on the needs and desires of each individual. I help people open to their own unfolding through compassionate inquiry and some physical work, either through breathing or lifting weights or literally, through whatever moves you forward on your own path.
From my heart to yours,